March 26th, 2014 | University

Dean’s Office to consider expanding mixed gender housing

Next year’s sophomores will not be allowed to live in mixed gender housing (MGH). But the policy may change by the 2015-’16 academic year.

According to an email sent to the undergraduate student body by the Yale College Council yesterday, the Yale College Dean’s Office will soon conduct a feasibility study of each residential college. The email states that before the end of the semester, Yale College Dean Mary Miller will review the results of the study before making a recommendation to her successor on whether or not MGH for sophomores should be implemented.

Prior to this step, the YCDO looked into expanding MGH for the 2014-’15 academic year, the email states. Last year, the YCC was tasked by the YCDO with surveying both upper- and underclassmen for their perspectives on gender neutral housing, according to the email. In Dec. 2013, the YCC compiled their findings into a report that endorsed the allowance of MGH to sophomores.

The research done by YCC found in the 2012-’13 academic year that a majority of respondents in both the freshman and sophomore classes supported making MGH available to sophomores. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of junior and senior respondents said they would have considered living in MGH during their sophomore years if it had been available. Ninety-three percent of respondents that had lived in MGH said it positively affected their residential experiences. Aside from the survey results, the proposal argues that MGH is less harmful to trans students and improves sexual climate on campus, among many other reasons for expanding to sophomores.

“The current gender-based housing policy puts sophomores, and even freshmen, in difficult situations,” the proposal states. “Currently, almost no gender-neutral living options are open to sophomores considering that sophomore-singles are much less common than sophomore-doubles in most residential colleges and sophomores do not have the option to live off campus as upperclassmen do.”

The proposal offers suggestions for how to reconfigure sophomore housing to implement MGH, and also advises that the YCDO provide MGH on a case-by-case, limited basis if MGH for sophomores is deemed unfeasible.

According to the email, the YCDO encountered difficulties in expanding MGH to sophomores for the upcoming academic year due to problems in “restructuring living spaces in certain residential colleges.” The email explains that the YCC stands by its original position, including its proposal of a case-by-case system in the event that MGH for sophomores is ultimately ruled against.

Mixed gender housing was first made available to Yale College students in 2010, when the University allowed seniors in the Class of 2011 to live in the same suite as students of the opposite sex.